Cubs Click Their Heels for #10 – Cubs 4 Nationals 2

Game One Hundred Seventeen – Cubs 4 Nationals 2
WP – Rodrigo Lopez (3-3) LP – Ross Detwiler (1-2) Save – Carlos Marmol (25)

wflag.jpgThe Cubs won their 50th game of the season on Ron Santo Day at Wrigley Field. After unveiling the statue honoring the late, great Ron Santo on Wednesday afternoon, the Cubs went out and played a solid game against the Washington Nationals … and ended a two-game losing skid.

Three of the Cubs four runs came off three solo home runs … one each off the bat of Geovany Soto, Reed Johnson and Alfonso Soriano. Wednesday marked the eight-straight game the Cubs hit at least one longball, the longest streak since a nine-game run from July 27 – August 4, 2009. Eleven different players have hit 19 home runs over the last eight games.

Alfonso Soriano (2-for-3 with a home run, a double, a walk and two RBI) drove in two of the Cubs four runs with a RBI double in the fourth and a solo homer in the sixth. Soriano hit his 20th longball of the season, the 10th straight season Soriano has hit at least 20 home runs. Soriano also became the third player in Cubs history to hit at least 20 home runs in his first five seasons with the club. Alfonso Soriano joined Hack Wilson and Andre Dawson as the only three players to accomplish the feat in a Cubs’ uniform.

Geovany Soto (1-for-3 with a home run, a walk and two runs scored) tied the game in the second with his 12th longball of the season and his third dinger in seven games. Soto walked and scored on Soriano’s double in the fourth.

Reed Johnson (4-for-4 with a home run) tied a career high with four hits that included his fifth home run of the season.

The Cubs offense totaled 10 hits … three home runs, two doubles and five singles.

Starlin Castro extended his hitting streak to ten games with a single in the first inning. Castro was thrown out at second trying to stretch the single into a double. Castro struck out swinging in his other three at bats. Castro’s run-scoring streak came to an end.

Rodrigo Lopez put together a serviceable outing and picked up his third win. Lopez allowed two runs, one earned, on five hits without a walk and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

The bullpen was excellent again on Wednesday night. Jeff Samardzija, Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol gave up a total of two hits with no walks and six strikeouts over the last 3 1/3 innings of the game. Marmol struck out the side in the ninth in route to his 25th save of the year. Cubs pitching did not walk a single batter on Wednesday night.

With Wednesday’s win, the Cubs improved to 50-67 on the year … 17 games below .500.

The Nationals got on the board in the first inning with a gift run courtesy of another defensive miscue. Rodrigo Lopez retired Rick Ankiel and Danny Espinosa rather easily but gave up a hard-hit single Ryan Zimmerman. The Nationals’ third baseman extended his hitting streak to 18 games with a single to left on a 2-1 pitch.

Lopez fell behind Michael Morse 3-1 but appeared to retire the slugger with a grounder to the hole at short. Starlin Castro fielded the ball and threw to second … but the ball ended up in no man’s land. Castro’s throw was to the outfield side of the bag. Barney tried to stretch and keep his foot on the base but the throw was too wide. By the time Reed Johnson got to the ball, Zimmerman scored and Morse ended up at third.

Castro’s error in the first inning was his first since July 10 and his 19th of the year.

Jayson Werth struck out swinging to end the first … and the Cubs surrendered yet another run in the first inning of a game.

Starlin Castro extended his inning streak to ten games with a single off Detwiler’s glove in the first. Ian Desmond picked up the ball in shallow left and threw out Castro at second trying to stretch the single into a double. Castro actually over-slid and came off the bag after Espinosa had dropped the ball.

Reed Johnson followed with a single to left. Aramis Ramirez hit a hard liner to right on a 2-0 pitch but it was right at Jayson Werth. Jeff Baker grounded out to second to end the inning … but other than Baker, Ross Detwiler was not fooling anyone in the first inning.

The Nationals did nothing against Rodrigo Lopez in the second. Lopez threw 32 pitches in the first two innings, 20 for strikes.

Geovany Soto tied the game at one with his 12th longball of the season. Soto led off the second and smacked a 2-2 pitch down the left field line. Detwiler settled down at that point and retired Byrd (blooper to second), Soriano (fly out to left center) and Barney (struck out swinging) to end the inning.

Rodrigo Lopez retired the Nats in order again in the third … and other than a two-out single by Reed Johnson in the bottom of the inning, the Cubs were not able to string anything together in the third.

Lopez made it through the fourth inning on Wednesday night. Jayson Werth reached on a single to center off Castro’s glove with two outs but that was all.

The Cubs took a one-run lead in the bottom of the fourth after Geovany Soto worked a one out walk … the Cubs first free pass of the game.

Marlon Byrd lined out to a diving Rick Ankiel in center for the second out of the fourth. Alfonso Soriano blooped a 1-0 pitch down the right field line. Jayson Werth misplayed the ball, slid into the padding as the ball hit off the sidewall. Soto, who was running on the play, scored all the way from first … 2-1 Cubs.

Darwin Barney was intentionally walked to bring Rodrigo Lopez to the plate with two outs. Lopez hit a hump back liner into center. Rick Ankiel charged and came up throwing. Soriano ran the bases poorly and had to be held at third (Soriano looked behind his shoulder at the play instead of watching his third base coach.).

With the bases loaded and two outs, Starlin Castro struck out swinging at a ball in the dirt to end the inning.

Jesus Flores reached on an infield single with one out in the fifth (originally ruled an error changed to a hit in the sixth). The ball hit in foul ground but had tremendous spin and ended up back in the field of play. Flores reached and advanced to third on a two-out double down the right field line off the bat of Rick Ankiel. Lopez retired Espinosa on a ground out to second to end the inning.

Reed Johnson led off the bottom of the fifth with his fifth homer of the year. Johnson’s first dinger since June 18 gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead. Ramirez (fly out to right), Baker (ground out to short) and Soto (lineout to right center) went down in order to end the fifth.

Rodrigo Lopez took the hill to start the sixth with a 3-1 lead. Ryan Zimmerman grounded out to short and Michael Morse hit a loud out to deep right center.

Jayson Werth made it a 3-2 game with his 14th homer of the season. Werth launched a 1-0 pitch into the bleachers in left center and chased Lopez from the game.

Jeff Samardzija took over and struck out Jonny Gomes looking to end the sixth … Gomes looked at three straight and never took the bat off his shoulder.

Collin Balester took over for Davey Johnson in the bottom of the sixth. Marlon Byrd struck out looking to start the inning.

Alfonso Soriano gave the Cubs a two-run advantage again with his 20th dinger of the year. Soriano ripped a 1-0 pitch over the ivy in left center. Darwin Barney followed and just missed a longball of his own. Barney settled for a double off the top of the wall.

Jeff Samardzija hit for himself (0-for-4 on the year) and looked at strike three. Starlin Castro struck out swinging on a ball in the dirt to end the inning … Castro’s third swinging strikeout of the game.

Ian Desmond struck out swinging to start the top of the seventh. Jesus Flores then ripped a 1-2 pitch from Samardzija down the left field line. The ball hit off the sidewall and Flores ended up at second. As soon as Laynce Nix was announced as the pinch-hitter for Collin Balester, Quade went to his pen and brought in Sean Marshall.

Nix grounded out to short, Flores advanced to third and was stranded when Marshall struck out Ankiel swinging to end the inning.

Reed Johnson collected his fourth hit of the night with a single to center to start the seventh. Henry Rodriguez retired Ramirez, Carlos Pena (pinch hit for Baker) and Soto without allowing Johnson to advance past first base.

Danny Espinosa led off the top of the eighth with a bunt single up the third baseline … the first time all night the Nationals put the leadoff runner on base. Quade stayed with Sean Marshall and he induced a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Ryan Zimmerman. Morse broke his bat and popped out to short to end the eighth.

Alfonso Soriano worked a one-out walk in the bottom of the eighth. Tony Campana ran for Soriano and after two pitch outs with Barney at the plate, Campana stole second. Barney grounded out to short. Campana advanced to third but was stranded when pinch-hitter Blake DeWitt flied out to left on a 3-2 pitch.

The Cubs took a 4-2 lead into the ninth. Carlos Marmol started the inning trying to save the game for Rodrigo Lopez. Marmol struck out Jayson Werth (swinging), Jonny Gomes (looking) and Ian Desmond (swinging) to end the ballgame.

After the last out, I could have sworn I heard a familiar voice scream out ‘Yeeesssss!

Box Score from Yahoo Sports

Ryan Dempster will face Jordan Zimmermann in the finale of the series, and the season series, against the Nationals on Thursday afternoon.

Quote of the Day

"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run." - Babe Ruth